Updated: Mar 17, 2020
Just off the coast of the Pacific Ocean in the town of Kaikoura, lies a magical land set amongst the mountains and the sea. The antlered deer running across its onsite breeding farm adds to the ambiance of a fairy tale dream come to life. Give a whole new meaning to ‘destination wedding’ at the Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses in New Zealand’s South Island. If you’re looking for unique and intimate – this is it.
Cozy interiors with a countryside vibe (complete with a fireplace in each room) sprinkled with modern amenities and luxury; this quaint hotel does not skip a beat. The venue is comprised of five tree houses (two of which are two-tiered for bigger families), four lodge rooms and an Olive House, a re-imagined 3-bedroom suite that used to house the farm’s olive press. At a capacity of only 36 guests, the entire lodge can be booked for your exclusive use – how amazing is that?! Imagine the dedicated attention you’ll receive on your Big Day!
With its humble and unassuming entrance, what is revealed on the other side is nothing short of remarkable. You arrive in the reception area for check-in, leaving your belongings to the trustworthy staff who will transport your bags to your room. Welcome drinks are offered while being led over to the lounge to unwind after your journey to the lodge. Here, you will find seating areas with plush couches, a cozy fireplace and soft jazz music playing in the background; a welcome change of pace. It’s hard to stay still, however, as you are just in awe of the way nature and comfort has woven its way into this room. You just have to touch and graze and marvel at the wooden craftsmanship all throughout and can’t help but take in the picturesque views outside the windows.
Large doors lead to the graveled courtyard and infinity pool looking out onto the field of deer and in the distance, snow-capped mountains of the great Kaikoura Ranges – visible even from the southern North Island – creating a spectacular backdrop for many weddings held at the venue. Beside the heated pool is a steam room and outdoor jacuzzi, a must for stargazing under the endless night sky.
Follow along the path and you will find the patio, shaded by large native trees. The picnic tables are great for an outdoor dining option or can be removed for more event space that leads into the open-concept dining room. The possibilities are endless for your ceremony and reception.
Lastly, the spacious rooms that you and your guests will rest (or not rest) your heads at the end of an eventful day – is the main attraction. Designed and built by the Wilson family of architects, whom still own the farm today, each suite is designed to take your breath away. Featuring soaking tubs positioned perfectly to take in the stunning outdoor views, private [efficient] fireplaces and custom-made furniture. An iPod equipped in every room pre-loaded with great jazz playlists add a mellow touch to your stay.
The concept behind the tree houses were born out of the idea that if one could be a bird, one could appreciate the full beauty that is Kaikoura. Being nested among the tree tops allow guests to feel closer to the sky as birds do – with each of the 5 tree houses named after a native bird of the country. Guests are pampered with views of the region’s dramatic mountain ranges on one side and vast ocean views on the other; the large windows make you feel right next to nature amidst the Kanuka grove canopy.
If that’s not a true testament to an immersive kiwi experience, the kitchen’s farm-fresh menu is sure to have you swooning. Overseen by executive chef, Fiona Read, a MasterChef finalist in 2011, each dish is an artistic production and masterpiece. Every meal is an experience. With a daily menu that features seasonal ingredients, fresh seafood and quality meats, it has been deemed by many as the best New Zealand has to offer; and how could it not, being in the town of Kaikoura – kai: meaning “to eat” and koura: “crayfish”, the area was literally founded on the accessibility of food (and boy is it ever good!).
Being recognized as the world’s first Green Globe certified community, Kaikoura is focused on sustainability and preserving its environment. Hapuku Lodge is doing its part by sourcing ingredients and products from local farmers and purveyors and its kitchen garden is completely organic. Even the timber used in construction of the lodge has been responsibly sourced or from recycled and salvaged timbers.
What really makes this lodge phenomenal is the service – as a small venue, the team’s service is fluid and it really feels like family. You are welcomed right from the moment you arrive; the passion and pride exude from everyone who works at the lodge making sure the stay is memorable for every guest. Your onsite event coordinator will stop at nothing to make your wedding day absolutely perfect – right down to the finest of details. No task or request is too small which is especially important when planning a wedding from abroad or even from across the country where site visits aren’t the most convenient. The connections you make with the staff are so genuine and heartfelt that at the end of the day, is one of the biggest things you remember from your stay.
Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses makes it easy to plan your wedding here and is worth considering as an option for a milestone date. If this sounds like the venue you’ve been looking for, contact me, your Lifestyle Travel Planner, here for more information on how to get started.
Opinions expressed in this post are my own and drawn from personal experience. This was not endorsed in anyway from the Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses in any way. Images are courtesy of The Isles Wedding Photography.